The taste and aroma is influenced by it production process pretty much. Especially, 酒母 ”shubo” which is written in Mother “母” of Sake “酒” gives huge effect against its taste.
The method to produce Shubo has been shifting in the 2000 years long history of sake. This article tells you several methods existing in this era and the difference of taste by each method.
Please remember 2 keywords “生酛 Kimoto” “山廃 Yamahai”, then you can make the capacity for your selection of sake wider. With regard to this article, SAKEMARU offers sake produced with traditional production methods in April.
What’s Shubo 酒母？
Creation of Shubo is the first and important to step right after processing all the ingredients. It is made by mixing steamed rice, water, koji, and yeast. It contains large amounts of yeast, which promotes the MOROMI fermentation process.
Shubo is used as a foundation of producing Moromi, so that it is most important factor to define the taste of sake.This is also the reason Shubo is called “the mother of sake”.
4 Types of Shubo
Developed in 1910
Nowadays, most of breweries use Sokujo (Quick Fermentation) method to brew their sake because it saves tons of time and manpower to brew sake, although it took about 10 years to let market accept it in the very beginning.
Sokujo brewing method only takes 2 weeks to produce Shubo and it just need to add all the material such as steamed rice, KOJI, artificial lactic acid and cultivated yeast in to a water tank at once then leave it there for 2 weeks and you can go to next step.
Developed in 1909
Yamahai method was discovered in 1909, by a researcher who works for Japan National Institute for Brewing Studies, found that even brewers don’t smash all the material in to mud, the yeast can still do its job and the quality of sake is almost equal, the only two difference are more water and higher temperature needed.
Oldest method inherited to this era
Kimoto method is an ancient method to produce shubo, it costs 4 weeks to produce shubo and needs people to stand around a small tub to smash steamed rice, KOJI and water to a mixed mud to help the yeast to do its job more smoothly.
Although it is a traditional way to brew sake, but because of its manpower consumes, there are only a few breweries still stick with this method.
Developed around 14th century
Work：1 additional step
Bodaimoto method is a very unique method, it works like this, throw small portion of steamed rice with raw rice into water and left to the elements to turn the water to lactic-acidic water. Then mix the water with steamed rice, KOJI and yeast to produce shubo, but this method is very hard to find nowadays.
The taste is clear and dry. Aroma tends to be sharp and fruity. Yamahai（山廃酛）
It’s basically same as Kimoto, however, clearness is less than Kimoto and tends to be more complex and heavier than Kimoto. This is because of skipping 山卸し ”Yamaorishi” process. Of course, it’s great for hot sake.
The taste is complex and wild. High acidity influenced by lactic acid is the most remarkable feature. It’s very heavy and rich type, but there is clearness in aftertaste at the same time.
This is because of 山卸し ”Yamaorishi” process which manually smashes the rice in the barrel. It is perfect for warm sake. Please imagine hot milk… Its fresh sourness turns to be creaminess like heavy cream.
It’s a heaviests sake and very sweet! But, it’s not just sweet. Sourness is far stronger than normal labels, so that its aftertaste is relatively clear and dry. If you drink it in icy chilled, sweetness is refrained and easy to drink. Hot sake is also very interesting. You can enjoy it rich sweetness and creaminess very well.
A few breweries currently produce sake with 生酛 Kimoto, 山廃 Yamahai and 菩提酛 Bodaimoto methods. Highly experienced brewers only can manage these methods with paying highest attention. When you find these labels, don’t hesitate and just try it. You will encounter the brand new sake world.